Menu planning and meal prepping are two things that can greatly improve your success of eating healthy and will ultimately save you time in the kitchen.
When healthy habits are enjoyable, they can last a lifetime. You know what is not enjoyable? Trying to prepare dinner for 6 hungry people in a time crunch (hello school, gymnastics and soccer).
Hopefully these tips will help you get started when you are in the mood to get a little meal prepping done.
- Plan- this is the phase where you need to do some rough meal planning. What meals do you struggle with the most (dinner is common, but you might want to do some prep for healthy breakfasts and lunches). When planning dinners get out some cookbooks, peruse some food blogs and take notes of dishes and ingredients. Do you want tacos this week? A crock pot soup? A chicken dish? You certainly don’t have to do the full week, but start by planning for 1-2 main dishes, 2-3 side dishes, 2-3 simple prep snacks. Don’t feel like you need to prep complete meals either. Just chopping the ingredients for the soup would save you time when it comes time to prepare it. Start simple!
- Make your list- now you need to create the list of everything you need to buy and what you already have, along with those simple prep items. Prepping also means taking inventory of what you have on hand and getting your fridge and pantry stocked.
- Set aside a couple of hours to do your prepping. Print out your recipes or get your electronic device powered up and in the kitchen. Remember, anything is better than nothing. Even if you just get some rice or boiled eggs cooked, some fruit cut, take small steps at the beginning so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Keeping a stash of prepared items, like yogurt, will help you assemble a balanced meal in a hurry. Light & FitOriginal Greek Nonfat Yogurt contains 80 calories and 12 grams of protein per 5.3 oz container. You can eat right out the fridge or make these simple frozen yogurt bites.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend increasing intake of nutrient-dense foods, such as fat-free or low-fat dairy products, like yogurt. Yogurt is nutrient-dense and many yogurts are often a good source of protein and calcium. Greek yogurts typically contain more
protein than regular yogurts. I find grab and go items a must to complement those quick fix meals!
ENTREE MEAL + SIDES EXAMPLES:
Pasta with with Vegan Creamy Tomato Sauce with a side salad
Turkey chili with a side of cornbread
Slow Cooker Turkey Taco Meat over salad or tortilla chips
SIMPLE PREP SNACKS/MEAL ADDITION EXAMPLES:
- Hardboiled eggs
- Sliced watermelon or oranges
- Oatmeal Breakfast cookies
- Peanut butter oatmeal balls
- Yogurt cups
- Cheese sticks
- Cut veggies, such as cucumber, mini peppers, carrots, celery sticks
- Diced onion, carrots, celery, garlic for soup or stews
- Prepared grains- like pasta, rice or quinoa
- Cuties, berries and grapes
- Egg Muffins
- Frozen yogurt bites
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get to planning and prepping!
*Details of first picture: Roasted onions and diced sweet potato (tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and dried oregano. 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees), Italian Seasoned chicken breasts, Roasted Broccoli (s & p, olive oil. 20 minutes at 400 degrees), Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad- dressed with olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, pepper and chopped cilantro), Pesto Pasta (using this pesto recipe).